Submitted by E.K. to PTAVE, April 23, 1998

WORD MAGIC -- How media bias makes child abuse disappear by making the victim look like the aggressor

I believe these two articles show how the media distorts the truth to make child abuse disappear. The first article is the whole story. Note that the police were called to protect the boy -- after he was taken outside by his stepfather. E.K.

Charges dropped against boy jailed for kicking mother

MIAMI (AP) - Charges were dropped Wednesday against a 10-year-old boy who spent a night at a juvenile center after a waitress claimed he kicked his mother in the leg during a family spat.

Neither Andrew Perkins, who had faced misdemeanor battery charges, nor his mother was in court for the hearing. The family's lawyer said Andrew had already returned to his fourth-grade class at Robert Russa Moton Elementary School.

Circuit Judge Tom Petersen said he planned to call for a grand jury investigation of Miami-Dade's Juvenile Assessment Center, the county agency where Andrew was held for 19 hours before being released to his mother.

``I've had an outpouring of complaints about the Juvenile Assessment Center and the people there,'' Petersen said. ``It's a white elephant.''

Petersen said the agency does no assessments, one of its primary purposes, and pointed to Andrew's family as an example.

He said the agency didn't know that the family also is involved in another juvenile court case involving Andrew's 15-year-old sister. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday before Juvenile Court Judge Jeri Cohen, who was to decide if Joe and Arlene Martin emotionally abused their daughter.

``This facility was aware that there were situations and circumstances with that family and surrounding that child that warranted not releasing that child,'' said center director Wansley Walters. ``The most appropriate thing was for that child to be held until he could go before a judge, which is what we did.''

Police have been called to the Martin home 32 times since 1993 on domestic calls, and claims of assault, larceny and a missing person, said Patrick Brickman, spokesman for Miami-Dade police.

Family attorney Frances P. Allegra wholeheartedly supported Petersen's comments about the juvenile center and the proposed move for a grand jury investigation.

``I don't think I could say it any better,'' Ms. Allegra said. ``He's a veteran of this system and knows all its shortcomings.''

It's too soon to say whether the family will take legal action against the agency, Ms. Allegra said.

Police were called Thursday after Andrew's stepfather, Joe Martin, took him outside the Pizza Hut restaurant because of the kick.

Ms. Allegra denies that Andrew, who makes As and Bs, was being beaten.

Ms. Walters said she would welcome a grand jury investigation and invited members of the media and the public to visit the center. ``We've only been open six months and we've processed over 10,000 arrested juveniles,'' Ms. Walters said. ``This facility is the result of four years of multi-agency planning. We have had so many positive things happen here.''

Boy, 10, is arrested after allegedly kicking mother

By Associated Press, 04/22/98

MIAMI - A 10-year-old boy was arrested, handcuffed, and jailed overnight last week after a waitress allegedly saw him kick his mother at a restaurant.The police say that the law, as written, gave them no choice.

''To be arrested for something like that? It was ridiculous,'' said Andrew Perkins's mother, Arlene Martin. ''I couldn't believe it was happening. When they put the handcuffs on him, I was completely shocked. He just sort of brushed my leg. It was nothing.''

Domestic violence law required the fourth-grader to be arrested before the violence escalated, police said, and the officers would have been penalized had they not done it.

''They would have been investigated through our Internal Affairs Unit,'' Miami-Dade police Detective Ed Munn said yesterday. ''And they could be given departmental sanctions, as well as civil liabilities - they could have been sued for not taking action.''

The boy was charged with simple domestic battery, a misdemeanor.Another hearing is set for today.

The judge and juvenile officials criticized rules that allowed for the arrest.

[This story ran on page A21 of the Boston Globe on 04/22/98.]

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